Legalising Illegal Cortijos

Monday, December 31, 2018
By Hugh MacArthur

MOT Illegal Cortijo Facing Demoltion Las ZorrerasOnce upon a time, building a cortijo on a patch of land without any planning permission was common practice – not now, because you just won’t get away with it.

Yet, even though Motril is cracking down on over 2,000 illegal constructions within the rural areas of the municipality, the process is very slow.

The fact is that many of them have been around since the 90s so they have made it past the finishing line, meaning that the owners can no longer be fined and the Town Hall can’t have them demolished. But that doesn’t mean that they are legal.

The fact that they are not legal means that their owners can’t obtain deeds for them, can’t get connected up to the electricity grid or to the municipal, mains-water supply. It also means that they can’t get planning permission to build an extension or carry out major repair work, because if they go ahead and start building work without building permission, then they will get fined and they will be ordered to pull the extension work down.

In other words, they’re in a legal limbo and nowadays, buyers want all the paperwork in order, not like the old days, so unless you can find a buyer who is willing to ‘carry the can,’ you’re stuck with it. It’s also an inheritance nightmare.

It was back in 2013 that the Junta opened up the possibility of legalising these illegal builds, something that pleased the town halls because it meant that they could start charging all sorts of local taxes.

The 2013 Decree allowed cortijos to be legalised as long as they were not build on protected green areas, and that they had been built before 2008, which was the point that it became too late for the owners to be prosecuted (five years).

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Despite all the optimism that this Decree generated in the six years that has elapsed, only 140 illegal constructions have been processed – about seven percent of the total.

All the rest that have come forward have ‘stumbled along the way,’ mostly through a lack of paperwork or falling down on one or various of the requisites.

But slowly the rest are coming forward, mainly because they want to sell their property, or carry out major repairs that would require a building licence, or finally decide that they can’t get by with solar panels or petrol generators anymore and want to connect up to the electricity grid.

Whilst those constructions that have been there for years are slowly coming forward, prospective cortijo owners should know that the ball game has changed and that when you are caught (and that is ‘when;’ not ‘if’) you’ll get fined and ordered to pull it down.

Spain has changed.

(News: Motril, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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